The Billie Jean King Cup qualifying round kicked off on Friday, with 14 nations facing off in home-and-away ties to determine who will advance to November's finals of the preeminent team competition in women's professional tennis.
Day 1 matches saw World No.1 Iga Swiatek and reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu among the players who picked up wins for their countries. Three match-wins by a country are required over Friday and Saturday to make the finals.
Swiatek breezed past former Top 20 player Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania 6-1, 6-0 in under an hour to complete a 2-0 opening day for Poland. Swiatek has now won 18 matches in a row, spanning Hologic WTA Tour events and the Billie Jean King Cup qualifying round.
"The streak that I have on the WTA Tour has given me so much confidence that right now I can just put pressure on my opponents and that's really a privilege," Swiatek said afterward, as noted by the Billie Jean King Cup website.
Earlier, Magda Linette, a recent quarterfinalist in Charleston, gave home team Poland an early lead over Romania with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 win over Irina-Camelia Begu.
Raducanu of Great Britain earned her first win over a Top 50 player this season when she knocked out Tereza Martincova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 7-5 to level their tie at 1-1. It was Raducanu's first clay-court match at tour level.
"This win means so much to me," Raducanu said, as the Billie Jean King Cup website reported. "It is my first Billie Jean King Cup match and to come out and represent my team like I did in my first professional match on clay is really amazing."
Earlier, Marketa Vondrousova dispatched Harriet Dart 6-1, 6-0 in under an hour to give home team Czech Republic the early lead. The Czechs have recently dominated the Billie Jean King Cup, winning a staggering six of the last 10 editions.
The highest-ranked player to fall on Day 1 was former World No.1 Angelique Kerber of Germany. Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan overcame three-time Grand Slam titlist Kerber 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to open a sterling day for her squad.
Following that match, Elena Rybakina bested Laura Siegemund 6-0, 6-1, and home team Kazakhstan exited Friday with a commanding 2-0 lead over former champion Germany.
Four-time champion Italy also took a 2-0 lead over three-time champion France after the first day. Jasmine Paolini squeaked past Alizé Cornet 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(2), and Camila Giorgi blasted past Oceane Dodin 6-1, 6-2.
Five-time champion Spain is another 2-0 leader after Friday's matches against the Netherlands. Nuria Parrizas Diaz beat Arantxa Rus 6-2, 7-6(4) and Sara Sorribes Tormo defeated Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove 6-4, 6-3.
The United States, which has 18 Billie Jean King Cup titles, also leads 2-0 after the first day. Alison Riske won the second-longest tiebreak in Billie Jean King Cup history en route to a gripping 7-6(16), 7-5 win over Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska.
Jessica Pegula added to Riske's lead with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Katarina Zavatska.
Canada also goes into Saturday with a 2-0 lead over Latvia. 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez defeated Darja Semenistaja 6-1, 6-2 in 53 minutes, and Rebecca Marino backed her up with a 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 win over Daniela Vismane. Marino fired 17 aces in her match.